Dec 082014
 

MaidofFairbourneHall_cover.inddAn Heiress Learns About Life Downstairs

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

Source:  Purchased

Margaret Macy must escape her home to protect her virtue, inheritance, and future! Her step-father has ordered his scoundrel nephew to court, woo, and even compromise (if necessary) his step daughter, Margaret, in order to force marriage between them and obtain control of her inheritance. With no funds readily available and no family nearby, Margaret disguises herself as a maid and leaves her family and home. In just a few months she will be old enough to claim her inheritance and can come out of hiding. Needing protection and the means to support herself, Margaret looks for work as a maid. By chance she is given a trial job at Fairbourne Hall, an estate that sounds familiar to her. It isn’t until Margaret arrives at Fairbourne Hall that she realizes that a former suitor whose offer of marriage she rejected lives within and is now considered her master.

With all the time we spend amongst servants and learning about life downstairs, this story felt like a Regency version of Downton Abbey! Julie Klassen shows readers what a normal day’s work is like for a housemaid, the rules and restrictions they must abide by, the isolated and lonely life they can live. I love how Ms. Klassen always includes relevant content and historical backdrops that educates and informs her readers about life in other professions and time periods. I learn so much when I read her novels – like the practice of maids facing a wall when a member of the family is passing near and how servants were required to mix or create their own cleaning materials and household commodities like furniture polish and cold cream.

This is my fifth Julie Klassen novel*, so of course I went in expecting a bit of intrigue, personal growth, a tender romance, and inspiration – I was not disappointed! The intrigue about Margaret and her masquerade as a servant was such a fun adventure to follow, and the mysterious activities of Lewis Upchurch and what he was up to at night definitely kept me guessing. But what riveted me most to this story and kept me saying “one chapter more” to myself repeatedly was Nathaniel Upchurch and whether or not he recognized Margaret! I loved, loved, loved the scenes between Nathaniel and Margaret! Nathaniel is a caring, noble, and very admirable hero, and I greatly enjoyed observing Margaret slowly realize bit by bit all his wonderful qualities.

While I enjoyed Margaret as a character and took pleasure in witnessing her gradual transformation and personal growth, I couldn’t help but feel she was at times a little incongruent. On the one hand she is portrayed as a country girl – simple, refreshingly sincere – a doting sister, a daughter who greatly cherished everything about her father. But on the other hand, she also appears to be inconsiderate, self-centered, foolish, and haughty to others. Is she the “unaffected, spirited” beauty that Nathaniel fell in love with? Or is she a selfish and entitled heiress who can’t recall if she ever used the word “please” with a servant before?

Despite my quibble about the heroine, this romantic tale by Julie Klassen was a terrific and exhilarating read that I could not easily put down! Looking for something that combines your love of Jane Austen and Downton Abbey? You should definitely try The Maid at Fairbourne Hall!

*The Dancing Master      The Silent Governess      The Tutor’s Daughter      The Apothecary’s Daughter

 

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21 Comments on "The Maid of Fairbourne Hall – Julie Klassen"

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Maria

Oh, Meredith, what a lovely review!! I will read this one after I finish my current read, and I can’t wait to get to it! Especially since you gave it a 4.5! I’m so happy you enjoyed it because it means it’s a very good novel! 🙂

Sheila L. M.

This has been on my Wish List for some time. I am thinking I should now buy it. I have not read any by this author but someone out there must have liked it for me to have it on my list. Your review makes it a “must read”. Finished Rainy Days last night and I have no plans today so here goes…..

Joana Starnes

Thanks for the great review, Meredith! I’ve heard great things about this author! I think this book just HAS to go on my Xmas reading list. Such a delicious plot, full of possibilities!

Suzan

I am so happy you liked it. As you know we both enjoy her works tremendously. I loved the review you are always very succinct. If I had the words to put down I would mirror you pretty closely. Smiles.

Sophia Rose

I have yet to try one of her books and this one sounds so good. I’ll have to hit my mom up since she reads this author.

Teresa

Bravo for Margaret!. It must be very interesting to see a rich heiress living among servants. Can you imagine Mary Crowley acting like Margaret?… I think Mary should practise her maid role a lot LOL!. Thanks Meredith for another great Julie Klassen’s review! 🙂

jeanna

This is one I haven’t read yet. Sounds great! I own it but have not started it yet. It might just be the next one I crack!

Amy B.

It was fun hearing your thoughts on this one. It is tied for my favorite of her books so far, my other fave being The Silent Governess. I like how the author adds a little element of suspense & intrigue to her romances without them being full fledged mysteries, which is not really my cup of tea. I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve reading hers, which is all but the latest. I hope someday you’ll be able to read that one & share your thoughts with us! 🙂

Mariam
Thanks to Meredith and Julie Klessen I spent my weekend reading this book and “Silent Governess” one after the other with neglecting my final exams. I was interested by teh novel on the educational level on servants life, though I already knew the role :a servant must turn his/her towards the wall when the householder passes the others were so harsh and strict on servants. They were not even treated as human being. I loved the novel becaus ethe main girl gets to grow up from immature rich girl to self aware of the world and the inequalities and more… Read more »
Sheila L. M.

I bought and am almost finished with The Silent Governess, since Meredith mentioned it as a favorite. Am enjoying reading the various comments to head each chapter as to the role of servants or governesses. Sad to think how many young ladies suffered in that lonely, isolated role. Servants, at least, had each other to talk to and sit down to eat with.

Abigail Burton

I love Julie Klassen’s books and have read them all multiple times! She has a wonderful way of using her words to sound just like a Jane Austen novel. I look forward to her next novel debut with barely constrained excitement.
Abby

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